Sunday, September 29, 2013

Autumn Brings More Great Picks at COTT

Happy autumn from your friends at 
Clash of the Titles! 

So, which is your favorite genre? Contemporary or historical? 
YA or Women's Fiction? 

Please scroll, have a quick read, and vote on which you'd read first. We encourage you to share the contest on your social media sites. Spreading the word about an author's latest novel is the best way to encourage her!

(Voting closes Wednesday, October 02, at midnight.)

by Diana L. Sharples

Still reeling from the loss of his brother in Afghanistan, Calvin Greenlee pours himself into fixing his motorcycle and spending the rest of his time with his girlfriend, Stacey, who always has the right words to say. But when Stacey starts losing weight—a lot of weight—it’s clear she has problems of her own. Calvin is determined to cure her—but could that only push Stacey further into danger?
by Valerie Comer
Outspoken advocate for local food Josephine Shaw moves onto a rundown farm with two friends to prove to the world that she can live sustainably, but a mouse invasion and the cute reluctant farmer next door test her resolve. Zach Nemesek is itching to get back to his easy life in the city, but a Border collie puppy and the woman next door make him wonder if he's better off embracing God's plan for his life…or running from it!
by Liz Tolsma

After the German occupiers kill her husband, the last thing Cornelia de Vries wants is to be involved with the Dutch Resistance. Wounded underground worker Gerrit Laninga brings nothing but danger to her doorstep - and the chance at love she thought had gone forever.

by Karla Akins

 Pastor's wife, Kirstie Donovan, lives life in a fishbowl, so when she hops on the back of a bright pink motorcycle, tongues start to wag at the conservative, century-old First Independent Christian Community Church of Eels Falls. Certain church members have secrets to hide, and when God uses Kirstie's ministry to fill the pews with leather-clad, tattooed bikers, those secrets could be exposed, and some will stop at nothing to hide the truth.
by Jerusha Agen

No love, no pain—no God, no games.
A tragedy three years ago destroyed Nye's rise to the top of the dancing world as an upcoming tango star, making her shut out God and all emotional attachments that could lead to pain, but when a handsome lawyer and elderly landowner enter her new life to make her face the God she can’t forgive, will Nye learn to dance again?

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Cut and Then Cut Deeper

I am 45,000 words into my WIP and usually halfway through I check a list I have of story elements. Things like theme, character arc, scope of the plot, etc.  Things that every novel needs to tell a gripping story.

This is also the time that I tend to do major surgery on my chapters. I recently chopped out four, put them back in, sliced other ones out...and then rewrote them.

All this because at the mid-way mark I am familiar with the intricacies of my plot and internal workings of the characters.  This knowledge aids me in really looking at what I have so far.

Do I have character revealing scenes? How about ones that display their weaknesses or their unique
10 Blade!
strengths?  Do I have a moment that shows their true motivations?

Do I have conflict enough to avoid a sagging middle? How about tension and opposing sides that each have a valid point?

So I get out my figurative scalpel and start to debride my words from my ideas. What do I have underneath that needs to be revealed and how can I do it more clearly, more succinctly, and with more emotional impact?

I pull out my 9 Plot Steps worksheet that I've had since high school and make sure I have all of them either on the page or outlined to be written...

  1. Triggering Event
  2. Characterization
  3. First Major Turning Point
  4. Exposition
  5. Calm Before the Storm
  6. Negative Turning Point
  7. Apparent Win for Villain
  8. Revelation or Turning of the Tide
  9. Victory for Hero/Heroine
After all my poking and prodding, I think I am ready to go back and layer some things in my first chapters. Thanks to my illustrious critique partner, Erin at Spock Writes Romance, I've talked through some ideas and have a definite direction.

So I'm off to the operating room to do some serious cutting. Until next time...Go Write!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Pinterest as Book Research?

I am a huge lover of Pinterest as a tool for writers. I have boards for different books, research ideas, even pictures for inspiration.  Because each photo ideally launches you to a website or blog, there is a wealth of information to be had beyond your idle clicking.

Currently I am working on a steampunk novel, so I was happy to find a huge amount of not only pictures of costumes and weapons, but all manner of images and concept art to help me spark my own ideas of what my developing world might look like.

It doesn't matter what you need to research either. Whether its muscle cars, architecture, amazing locations, and even cuisine. You can find it easily.

Pinterest connects you to photobucket, flickr, Etsy, anything and everything and you don't have to bother with individual website search engines. You don't have to wade through waves of misses before you find what you're looking for.

Photo by Kim Jew
I needed to wrap my mind around a calculating engine, a chemistry set up from the Victorian era, and the internal hatches of a cutter ship.  Guess what?  Pinterest.

Apparently there are even coast guard cutter cookie cutters, if you're interested.

Not to mention the connection to others with similar interests whose boards you can follow. I happened upon so me great forums. The members were very gracious and happy to answer questions...okay, argue about the answer to my question, but still. I learned a lot.

All this to ignore the accusation of Pinterest being a huge time-suck. Pretty much anything can be distracting if you let it. The trick is to use it as a tool and then get to writing!

What sort of online resources do you use to help you with research that falls outside the traditional angle? I'd love to know. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Dark or Classic...

As a writer I fall deeply in love with my main characters. I care about them, fight with them, argue with them in elevators. We all do...right?  Right, guys? 

Okay, maybe its just me. But regardless of whether or not I may have issues. The fact remains that as authors, we need to be invested emotionally in our characters because if we aren't absolutely enthralled...why would our readers care?

In my experience, though, its hard to care about someone if you don't understand them.

So, every time I write a book I take time after I've already written a few chapters to really get a feel for what kind of person my hero is because even after planning and outlines and character really can't see him until he's moving in front of your eyes as you write him.

First I have to decide if he's a hero or an anti-hero. This is the main hurdle because it will inform his decisions and even how he appears to some extent.

So, I ask myself a series of questions to better clarify if my main man is a Classic Hero or a Dark Hero...

Classic or Dark 

  • Is he an idealist who stands up to bad guys or is does he stand up to any authority figure no matter the reason?
  • Does he strive for peace and value hierarchy or is he rebellious?
  • Is he clear in his decision act or is he pushed into acting by circumstances?
  • Does he know his weaknesses and hopes to overcome them or does he believe they are justified?
  • Does he learn from his mistakes and changes fundamentally or does he remain a rogue or self interested?
  • Is he lawful or even a law authority or is he more of an 'end justifies the means' kind of guy?
  • Is he a knight in shining armor or more of a fallen angel sort of figure?
  • Is he steadfast in who he is or is he unpredictable?
  • Do his morals hold to conventional norms or does he have a fluid idea of right and wrong?
  • Finally, what is his motivation? Is he good from the get go or does he eventually come around, but not until the very end?
Whether Classic or Dark, heroes need to be complex. One of the hardest things to care about is someone who is unalienable, perfect, and predictable.

Think of your favorite super hero  and then decide what category they fall under. Then figure out why you are drawn to that type of character. You may find it surprising to see the same archetypes in your own work.

So think about it...Are you more Captain America or Iron Man...Stephan or Damon...

I'd love to hear what you come up with. Until next time...Go Write!